LAYTON, Utah — Utah’s BMX community is coming together to honor a Layton man who was hit and killed by a vehicle while out riding his bike last month.
James Pinko, 38, on April 23rd was biking around Hill Field Road near the Layton Hills Mall when he was hit by a vehicle exiting I-15. He died later at the University of Utah hospital.
Pinko liked to work and hang out with other BMX riders and enthusiasts at the 5050 Bike & Skate shop in Layton.
“BMX was always an outlet that we had. Somewhere we just went, something we did,” said Tristen Cooper, Pinko’s friend. “We didn’t think about it, it’s just what we did.”
His friends said nobody loved the sport or the community as much as Pinko.
“If you were at all involved in BMX in Utah, you’re gonna know who James Pinko is, without a doubt,” said Eddie Buckley, the owner of 5050 Bike & Skate.
Even from a young age, BMX was in Pinko’s blood. The Layton rider’s reputation was well-known across the state and country. He was featured in magazines and nationally recognized for some of his videos.
“He had goals, and he wanted to do good and do awesome stuff,” Pinko's friend Matt Beringer said.
For Pinko, it wasn’t always about placing first in competitions or getting a cool trick caught on camera. It was all about doing everything for the love of the sport.
“His accomplishments could be so much more if he had focused on his own career, riding, self-promotion,” said Nick Fletcher, another one of Pinko's friends. “He was too busy bringing all of us up.”
The day after his death, Pinko’s friends threw together a last-minute vigil, expecting only two dozen or so to show up. In the few hours it took for word to spread, more than 200 people showed up at the skate shop to remember him.
“The second that people found out, my phone has not stopped ringing,” said Cooper.
His friends still can’t fathom that he’s gone, but there’s one place where they feel closest to him: the skate park in Ellison Park.
“Since the day it opened, he’s been there at least weekly, if not every day,” said Fletcher.
His friends put together a GoFundMe to help his family with funeral expenses. They also hope to rename the park in honor of him.
“Really he’s such an iconic part of that skatepark,” said Buckley. “I can’t think of anyone else that is more deserving of having a skatepark named after them.”
His friends will remember him for many things: his art, talent, eccentric personality, and camaraderie. There was something special about Pinko that made people’s spirits soar, and his friends feel as though future skaters and BMX riders need to know that.
“You don’t forget James Pinko. You just don’t,” said Fletcher.
Officers with the Layton Police Department told FOX 13 News that they are still investigating who was at fault in the crash. They said they are currently waiting on toxicology results.